Do you know if the eggs you're eating are healthy?
I did some scratching around recently on just how healthy these things are and what I found out about our supermarket eggs gave me very little to crow about unfortunately. If you have a gander at one of my old videos you'll get the idea otherwise I'll crack on!
Commercial eggs - crikey whats happening out there!
Did you know that the natural diet of a chicken is insects, worms and green plants? I was disappointed to find all of our commercial eggs appear to be coming from chickens that eat grains or "cereals" as the major part of their diet. Do you think that's healthy? Stone the crows its not! This isn't the natural diet of the poor old chick and has a massive impact on the nutrient profile of the egg.
Eggs from grain fed chickens can contain as much as nineteen times more omega-6 than omega-3. Blimey! The natural ratios in a healthy egg (and the general consensus on the ideal ratios) is normally around 1 to 1 or up to 1 to 4! That's a bummer because increased levels of omega-6 can contribute to inflammation in the body due to its pro-inflammatory properties. In turn inflammation causes a number of well known diseases. When the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is right, that isn’t a problem since omega-3 fatty acids are rich in anti inflammatory properties. Be aware that choosing “certified organic” isn’t enough when it comes to animal products - we need to be aware of what the animals are eating - natural or unnatural. When I checked all the main supermarkets to query what their animals ate I found that the diet of all their organic meats (chickens and therefore eggs, lamb, beef) included "cereals" - that's things like corn, wheat, maize, barley and oats. Damn!
How about we locate egg producers that can provide eggs from chickens that eat their natural diet only? they're out there somewhere! I think its good to ask suppliers what their animals are fed, the more people that ask this important question the more they'll realise the demand for real healthy food is here!
A peck around at some of our supermarket eggs
What I found after having a gander at some supermarket eggs:
Burford Browns - The best of what I found from the supermarket in terms of colour, a good yolk colour nice and orange, you can see the chickens have been eating some greens. I contacted Clarence Court and unfortunately they confirmed that their chickens do also eat cereals and oilseeds. Probably the best of a bad bunch but to be fair after eating them for a while I did find the odd one with a poorly formed yolk but generally a better colour than any of the others.
Tesco organic eggs - Most likely these poor ol' chooks eat a large amount of grains shown by the very pale yellow yolk colour, given that supermarket's declare their animals eat "cereals" (even organic) this isn't a surprise really. Rather tasteless too.
The best way to eat eggs - don't knock it until you've tried it I always say:
Ideally you want to consume your eggs raw but only if you know they're from a reliable trusted source - and that's probably not big farmer! When I have eggs I usually have them raw and can tell you if you give it a crack for a week or two you'll be surprised how quickly you get over that initial yuk feeling - seriously - only took me a few days. Like most things its about getting your mind out of the way.... One of my teachers swears by a raw egg with olive oil and a raw clove of garlic every day. I don't recommend eating the same foods each day and the raw garlic clove certainly wasn't for my body but I did find the olive oil with the raw egg made the 'raw egg experience' a little more pleasant.
Once upon a time I used to scramble my eggs but actually that's one of the worst ways to eat eggs as it actually oxidises the cholesterol in the egg yolk.
If you’re not comfortable eating your eggs raw then soft boiled or soft poached is the next best option, ya softie!
Eggs are often one of the most allergenic of foods, most likely this is because they're cooked. Heating the egg protein actually changes its chemical shape, and these changes can easily lead to allergies. When a healthy egg is consumed in its raw state, the incidence of egg allergy can virtually disappear - thats kinda cool don't you think? Yet again o'natural is the way to go!
Well when I was a young fella I was told....
Eggs have an interesting history and many of us have been told false information about them. Some of these myths include:
Bad for cholesterol (as a source of saturated fat) and promote heart disease - In more recent times we know that not to be true. Animal foods as a source of saturated fats has often had unjustifiably a bad wrap. It is this altered composition in the animal fat from chickens fed on an unnatural diet that poses a threat to our health, not the “fat” itself.
Separating out the egg whites: As a kid I was always told that separating the egg whites from the eggs and consuming only the egg white was a good idea, but actually its not. Not only do we need the fat contained in the yolk to metabolise the protein of the egg white, but a controlled diet of only raw egg whites can lead to severe biotin (biotin is a B-vitamin) deficiency. Forgive me for getting a bit technical for a moment but I get a kick out of this sort of thing - this is because when you consume raw egg white alone, without the yolk, a component in them called 'avidin' binds to biotin, potentially creating a deficiency in your body. Aha!
Keep your eggs in the fridge: That's not necessary! Eggs that are fresh and have an intact cuticle do not need to be refrigerated as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time. I keep mine in the cupboard.
Is this egg healthy? here's some simple tests:
Here are some ways to check your eggs for freshness and quality - if you're planning on doing these tests with eggs that have been stored in the fridge remember to leave them out for an hour at room temperature before testing your egg - when they're pulled straight from the refrigerator they'll seem fresher than they actually are. If your egg fails any of these tests I wouldn't eat it:
Check for cracks, if there are any then give her a miss!
The wobble test for freshness: Roll the egg across a flat surface. A fresh egg will wobble.
The sink test for freshness: You can also place the egg in a bowl of water if the egg sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh. If the egg sinks to the bottom but stands on its point, it’s still good but needs to be used soon. This is because the shell is porous and air accumulates in the base of the egg, the less fresh the egg the more air it will have in it. If the egg floats to the top, she's too stale!
Yolk colour: After you crack the egg open, the egg yolk should be a deep gold/orange colour - if its pale yellow then that chicken has been fed grains. The fats in these eggs are discoloured (pale yellow) and lack nutrients such as sulfur, which give an egg its good taste!
Shape: The yolk should be a firm round shape, strong and keeps its shape when you poke it. The yolk should have with a nice convex uprightness to it. If the egg yolk is not this shape or easily bursts then she’s a dud!
What does it taste like? If its kinda tasteless then that's normally a pretty good sign its not the real deal.
For the record healthy eggs typically contain:
1/3 less cholesterol
¼ less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene